Monday, 14 May 2007

National Disaster

I am also deeply concerned at the casual (and not so casual) anti Americanism creeping up on us, open derision bordering on the racist is seemingly acceptable even to the faces of Americans.

I’ve thought his for some time now, but I was forcefully reminded of this last week at the National Theatre. I was about to watch A Matter of Life and Death, a stage version of the 1946 film, in the Olivier Theatre. It’s a Kneehigh co-production with the NT, adapted by Emma Rice (also the show’s director) and Tom Morris (late of BAC, now an NT Associate Director). The film has an English RAF Pilot and an American radio operator fall in love. David Thomas, a journalist hired to write the programme notes, writes: ‘that the girl has been made English for this production is a reflection on changing times’. What! Have times changed so much that Americans no acceptable persons to be characterised in a stage play? The original film celebrated the US-UK alliance, one that is still culturally still strong (however much you disagree with ‘the war’). But of course the USA is such a pariah state that we must shun them? Sure, I don’t like US foreign policy or their current Chief Executive, but this is lunacy. America has given the world so much culturally (too much in some cases, granted) and has admirable aims democratically. The way society is often run there is absolutely against many of my beliefs, but that is their choice and not a reason for hate, don’t forget that there are many millions of good people in the USA who also hate their President. New York is one of my favourite cities (the only one which I would swap London for in fact), a great cultural melting pot and an exciting experience in itself.

I was enlightened further by the writings of Ms Rice in the programme (writing about her Grandfather who served in WWII and to whom the production is dedicated to):

‘my uncle believes that if he had had the education and the support, he (her Granddad) would have been a conscientious objector’

Well, what an insulting and disgusting thing to say. So all the ill educated oiks of this land who fought Hitler and fascism, who fought to save Europe from total domination fought for nothing? If only the poor fools had education they’d down weapons right away.

Well, my grandfather may not have had education, but he was a clever man. He hated war, but was proud of what was done in WWII, he wouldn’t talk about it often, but he told me how he felt occasionally.

Then Rice goes on to a hyperbolic statement equating the Second World War with the Iraq conflict, each as useless as the other she implies. Gosh, how trivially she throws away the evil of Hitler and the Nazis. I can’t treat history in the caviller and selfish way she does. Thank god (or would God Bless America be more appropriate?).

Her whole approach and attitude is so warped that it’s no wonder her production left me quite cold (a review is on its way).

1 comment:

Sal said...

Since "A Matter of Life and Death" is one of my all time favourite films, if not THE favourite, I was really doubtful about going to see the play, since it seemed like sacrilege to redo something so perfect and beloved. Normally I try to see as much as posible at the NT but this had me hesitant - and after your comments and the reviews, I think I'll give it a miss. You capture all my doubts and misgivings, especially the knee-jerk anti-Americanism. I'd like to keep my love for the film untainted by some modern foolish reinterpretation.

Nice blog, btw. Will be back